How quick does a drizzle turn into a storm? Apparently, just a day.
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel
In: Japeth Aguilar
Out: Yousef Taha, Elmer Espiritu
Globalport Batang Pier
In: Jay Washington, Yousef Taha, 2013 1st round pick (from Talk ‘n Text)
Out: Japeth Aguilar, Jason Deutchmann, 2016 2nd round pick, 2017 2nd round pick
Petron Blaze Boosters
In: Jason Deutchmann, 2016 2nd round pick, 2017 2nd round pick
Out: Jay Washington
Barako Bull Energy Cola
In: Elmer Espiritu
Out: 2013 1st round pick (from Talk ‘n Text)
It’s hard enough to analyze the effect on each team on a three-team trade, much less a four-team trade such as this one! I’ll be asking the assistance of RJ Salido and Arnold Villa, our writers for Barangay Ginebra and Petron, with this analysis. Here are their takes:
RJ Salido on the effect of the trade for the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel
Japeth Aguilar is the main piece of this deal. He is young and has a lot of potential to be one of the best big men in the PBA. He is still raw, but he has a lot of upsides. He added a respectable mid-range shot to his arsenal and he’s still the most athletic big man in the league today. His entrance to Ginebra (who has Chris Ellis) suddenly makes them the most athletic team in the league.
The great thing about this trade is that Ginebra acquired him for basically nothing. They gave Elmer Espiritu and Yousef Taha, who both played limited minutes with Ginebra. They were also able to engineer the trade without giving up their prized 2013 first round pick (via Air 21).
Arnold Villa on what this trade means for the Petron Blaze Boosters
Trading Jay Washington was a good move for Petron. He complained about playing time even when they got eliminated in the playoffs. His game was never the same after the injury and it seemed like he couldn’t accept his new role with the team. Petron got a rookie in return but I won’t give my judgement yet as there might be another deal again.
Petron Blaze Boosters
As for me, I completely agree with Arnold here – Petron is clearly not finished and this might be the first of two or three more trades that will rebuild their roster around the younger and talented Fajardo and Lassiter. We’ll see.
Barako Bull Energy Cola
I have no idea about the PBA’s own Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) to be able to judge this trade. I do know this – I see a lot of good potential in Elmer Espiritu in the system (once again) of Coach Rajko Toroman. He’s more of a spot-up than a dynamic shooter so he’ll mostly be the corner/elbow guy on their sets. He’s not yet there as a defender. i.e. he misses out on a lot of simple closeouts and rotations, but he’s very capable of being an adequate defender. And since the pick is from Talk ‘N Text (a team that’s perennially among the best), I’d have to assume that’s a low pick. Well, the PBA draft is weird (let’s save this for another post). But, basing it on talent alone, I like it for Barako.
Ginebra San Miguel
Here’s where it gets juicy. I think the acquisition of Japeth is a great low risk, high reward deal.
It’s a well accepted fact that Japeth Aguilar is “soft.” That’s a cue for a player who is one of these things: afraid of contact, likes to float to the perimeter or easily pushed. Sadly, Japeth is all of those at once or in pieces, depending on the situation. The saddest part is that he’s not as good as people make him out to be. Sure, he’s filled with potential – he’s LONG (probably has a wingspan of around 7’1″ maybe longer), he’s quick, he’s only 26 years old (which is young by PBA standards) and he’s vertically gifted (and I mean jumping). Don’t believe me? Watch this clip:
However, Japeth is basically the same player that he was in Ateneo – yes, I said it. His improvement from his college days have been marginal. He added a not-so-good jumper (even then, it’s a very inefficient shot). He added straight line drives that were easy to defend since he can only do straight line drives to the right and when he does attack to the left, he still finishes with his right hand. But most of the reasons why he hasn’t caught on a team as much as his physical profile demanded was because of nuances that are STILL present almost eight years later, since his Ateneo days. He still gives up space when he defends the post and he bites on a lot of fakes. He’ improved, of course, from his pogo stick days but it’s still nowhere near where we expect him to be. The biggest problem with Japeth is that he is not contextually aware – this is often called “court awareness.” Oftentimes, you’ll see him either over-help or under-help. This is especially true on ball screen coverages. Miscommunications are a common thing when you watch Japeth. When he sags down on a pick-and-roll, he’ll continue covering the zone even when his teammate has recovered. He shades to spaces where there are no help. And you’ll often find him wandering in spaces that are not high-coverage points (i.e., he’s not that helpful to the team’s defense). Everyone expected him to be this hero and defensive stopper, he’s not. Despite his massive block numbers (5.3% block rate), he’s among the biggest reasons (along with Gary David and Sol Mercado) why Globalport had the worst defense last conference. Something that won’t change in Ginebra.
The best case scenario is that Coach Alfrancis Chua can get into his head and force him to stop his floating-to-the-perimeter-because-I-feel-like-I-am-Bosh days and allow him to be the devastating weakside cutter he can be on those LA Tenorio side pick-and-rolls. Then maybe Hatfield or Mamaril can teach him a thing or two about positional defense. Worst case scenario, he’s still the same old Japeth. Which isn’t such a bad thing if you looked at what they gave up.
However, the first question isn’t on how Japeth will fit into the Ginebra system but rather what system will he play into. When Caguioa still played, Ginebra’s offense largely revolved around him. They used him as a decoy, as the ball handler and in isolation situations. Everybody just played off that (e.g. LA running side ball screens while Caguioa received a back/down screen on the other side). Not a bad setup considering Caguioa is among the best and most efficient volume scorers in the league. However, this style of play clearly fueled the notion that “Caguioa held Tenorio back.”
When Caguioa got injured, LA was thrust into a new role and Ginebra transformed, probably out of necessity. That’s what happens when the focal point of your offense goes down.
Why is this relevant to Japeth? If Caguioa comes back healthy and Ginebra reverts back to their usual offense (revolving around Caguioa), Japeth will have a hard time fitting into that system and will probably see numbers similar to his Commissioner’s Cup outing (95 ORTG, TS of 47.1%, eFG% of 42.1%) which isn’t far off from the numbers of the guy he’s going to take minutes from, Billy Mamaril (85.7 ORTG, TS of 45.2%, eFG% of 42.9%).
However, if Ginebra goes with the fast-paced (not just fastbreaks, mind you), quick-hitting sets they loved to run when Caguioa was out, I can totally see Japeth fitting in (not saying it will happen, just saying it’s more realistically probable) as the weakside cutter (which Macklin used to devastating effect when Raymundo was the screener).
On a purely value basis, this is a win – Japeth’s potential and current production out-value what Espiritu and Taha combined could realistically give Ginebra. I’m just not too keen on making this a huge win for Ginebra.
Globalport Batang Pier
Did you watch Globalport play?
If you did, then you probably saw a lot of Japeth midrange jumpers either not touch the rim at all or barely grazing it. Now imagine instead of long twos, what you get are threes. I’ll explain more in detail why threes are better than long twos in another post (although it should be easy to see) but the gist of it is: threes offer much more reward than twos. Better spacing, more points, harder to close out, etc.
You must have watched Japeth do straight line drives as well right? Imagine those being done by a better ball handler, someone who can counter when opponents cut off his strong side (something that teams did against Japeth which he was unable to counter).
You must have watched a lot of awkward postups too (mostly from their imports). Imagine those being more fluid and successful.
That’s what Globalport is getting from Jay Washington or what they can get, if I may correct myself.
Globalport’s system is stylistically different from a lot of teams. And I mean that in a bad way. For one thing, Globalport never runs any sort of cross screening action compared to teams like San Mig Coffee (a natural part of the triangle offense) and Petron (setting June Mar up). They don’t have a post presence, so I’m really hoping this acquisition can help with that.
They run a lot of stagnant pick and roll/pops with occasional off-screen action along the way. The difference is that while other teams incorporate a second (or sometimes, even a third) action away from the ball (like Ginebra or Talk ‘n Text), Globalport rarely does it. Often times you’ll see Sol Mercado just dribble the air out of the ball using pick after pick after pick with everybody just standing, waiting for him to make a move. That would be fine if there were multiple passes. But there aren’t. And that’s the problem whether it’s Sol, Gary or Willie handling the ball.
Lastly, Globalport likes to isolate from the perimeter more than any other team. Isolations are fine in some cases (if they create ball movement in cases of isolation kick-and-drives like the Iso-Joe of Atlanta). But Globalport isolates for no apparent reason other than “it’s the easy way of executing an offense.”
Again, I LOVE the potential of this deal to Globalport. Jay Washington’s ability as an offensive weapon has the potential to completely change their offensive system. I just see a couple of problems though.
- Jay Washington is a minus defender in most cases, a neutral defender at best. At least Japeth can change shots (or block them). Jay Washington won’t help his new team rid them of their biggest problem (bad overall defense).
- Sol, Gary and Willie are still on the team (for now). If this trade is Globalport’s last major overhaul for the Governor’s Cup, then it’s going to be another interesting season for the guys in Neon Green and Black. Not only do they have players that NEED to touch the ball (Sol, Gary, Willie, Jay) but their system (and players) do not put their players into the best position possible to win. That’s assuming Junel Baculi changes nothing. There is an offensive level that can be unlocked with Sol (or Willie), Gary and Jay. Sol and Willie are stylistically similar players, Gary can operate off-the-ball better or as an on-the-move scorer (compared to a stand still creator), Jay can operate in the post, as a stretch four or as a better off-the-catch scorer compared to Japeth. If they plan on trying to outscore everybody (hello Suns, circa 2005), then they better score well (DOH!).
- Not just talking about how to distribute usage between four normally high usage players but just talking about personalities. People believed Washington was traded because he was unhappy with his role with Petron. If Globalport doesn’t change it’s offensive system, he’ll play in almost the same system (sans a post presence) playing in the same role. That’s not a good story, certainly one that Globalport management will try to avoid. And even if they add sets specifically targeted for Jay Wash, how happy will he be sharing the spotlight with three other “stars?”
In the end, a clear offensive upgrade while being a clear defensive downgrade with character issues in play (not like Japeth didn’t have those too). Almost a wash.
What do you think about this huge trade? Let us know in the comments!